The Hard Goodbye.

Happy National Dog Mom Day to all of you dog moms out there!

Now seems as good of a day as any to jump back in to blogging, as I should have already updated you on what’s happening in my dog life. Truth be told, I have been dreading writing about it. Mainly because I’m terrified I’m not going to do it the justice it deserves. If you follow me on all the regular social media outlets, you might have known that in the last 14 months, I said hello to a rescue whom we named Luna and had to say goodbye to my darling princess pupcicle, Addy, which was one of the worst days of my life. I think I handled it fairly well. And by fairly well, I mean, I laid in bed or on the couch hugging Beanie (Ann’s dog, who pretended to hate Addy but I think ended up missing her more than all of us). I certainly handled it much better than I thought I would: which was to drink heavily and completely fall apart. There was a bit of falling apart, but mostly compartmentalizing based on the rationale that I was doing what was best for her.

I 100% stand by that rationale. Addy was approaching 13 years old, which for a Labrador was well beyond the 10 year life expectancy. She was walking slower, never went upstairs, and spent most of her days sleeping. She was on several medications for arthritis and pain and it was becoming clear they were no longer working as well as they should.

But when I looked in her eyes, there was—as always—love and happiness. And so I told myself that it wasn’t time to say goodbye—although I made both Ann and the vet promise that if they thought it was time, they would let me know and even harassed April on her last visit about her thoughts. Probably not fair to put that on any of them (other than the vet), but sometimes you need to hear it from someone you love that it’s okay to say that it’s time.

Enter Luna. On a cold and snowy March morning, I’m downstairs enjoying my coffee in the quiet still of the morning when I hear Ann yell from upstairs “Uh, Sherry, COME HERE!” My first thought: oh shit what did Toulouse (aka The Evil Kitty) do? And from the moment of standing up and setting my coffee on the table to walking up the stairs, I envisioned numerous scenarios of things Toulouse destroyed or puked on or god only knows what else.

But no, Ann was looking out the window into our backyard and pointing at one of the dilapidated sheds. “What is that? Is that a dog? I think it’s a dog.” I squint towards the shed and all I can see is a fluffy, dingy head popping up and down and up and down and up and down. Ann asked “Is that Rocky?” (the dog from down the street) and immediately we hoofed it down the stairs and ran out to the shed. We peeked in one of the windows and breathed a sigh of relief. It was not Rocky. But it was below freezing and this fluffy bucket was a mangled mess, freezing, and probably starving and thirsty. The only problem was the door was iced shut and the windows too tall to climb into. We knew we absolutely had to get her out. We had no clue how to do it.

After about 30 minutes of prying on the door, we finally managed to open it enough for me to squeeze through. At first, Luna shied away from me but saw the towel in my hand and I think her survival skills overrode her fear and she jumped into my arms. I say “she” but that was only a guess and being used to having girl dogs. Her hair was so matted that we couldn’t tell what gender she was just by looking.

We took her in to the vet, who was visibly angry at the state in which we found her. He said said she looked healthy, but he honestly couldn’t do a proper exam unless they shaved her. I agreed and several hours later, he called back to say it took two people over 2 hours to get her shaved and she was severely emaciated, but thankfully did not show any signs of long term damage because of this. She lost two pounds of hair and was down to a very tiny eight pounds (a far cry from the 80 pound Labrador waiting at home!). However, the most concerning thing he found was that the limp Luna had when we found her was not because of the massive mats under her paws but rather because every single bone in her paw had been broken. EVERY SINGLE BONE.

Even worse than that? Her bones had already started to heal crookedly, so that her paw was at a right angle to her leg. She needed a cast to give her a better chance of it healing somewhat straight, however, to get a cast on required rebreaking all the bones and straightening them back into place. Poor baby girl. We scheduled the surgery for the following day and brought her home, wrapped in a blankie that she still loves to lay on.

As I mentioned earlier, Addy was no longer going up the stairs, but I didn’t want her to feel left out with this new puppy in the house, so Luna and I slept downstairs with her for the first couple of weeks. Slowly Luna got healthier, started gaining weight, and trusting us. Not-so-slowly Addy’s decline seem to be in a free fall and between the two of them, we were at or on the phone with the vet sometimes up to three times a week.

And then it happened. I gave Addy a treat and she choked on it. After I cleared her throat, I looked at her. Really looked at her and I knew. I knew it was time. I could see it in her eyes. She was tired, she was in pain, and I knew at that moment I had to let her go. A life without treats for Addy was not a life at all. I didn’t know how, but I knew that it was time to say goodbye.

I made the appointment, but her vet wouldn’t be back in the office for a couple of days. I took this opportunity to spoil the shit out her every waking moment and gave her all the human foods that she loved to eat: strawberries, cheese, bread, spaghetti, steak, cake, and one final bacon cheeseburger with fries. From the moment I made the decision and booked the appointment, I knew somewhere in my breaking heart that it was the right one. I worried that Addy would think I was replacing her with Luna, but in the car ride home from the vet while hugging Addy’s collar I realized that it was Luna who allowed Addy to be set free because Addy didn’t have to hide the pain anymore, pretending to be okay for my sake. Addy knew that she could go because now Luna was there and Addy wouldn’t be leaving me alone. My only hope is that Addy knew how much of a Labrador-sized hole she would leave in my heart when she laid her head in my lap for the very last time.

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: Chocolate Lab

I would like to start this post out by acknowledging that chocolate is very bad for dogs.  I do not give my dog chocolate.  Nor do I condone any dog eating–or even licking–chocolate.

But, well, I have a Labrador.  And when it comes to food, Labradors are exceptionally crafty.  As I have mentioned before, ninjas could take lessons from Princess Adelaide Grace.

One year for Christmas, a friend was so very kind to send me a kilo of dark chocolate from Haigh’s Chocolates in Adelaide (hahaha, Adelaide.  Not that I’m laughing at the city itself, just the irony of the chocolate coming from a place with the same name as the princess).  My friend didn’t tell me what she sent in her magical package, which arrived one day in early December.  It was filled with a Christmas card, a letter, and a few small wrapped gifts.  The card just said “Happy Christmas!” and the accompanying letter told of a year filled with adventure and fun.

Nowhere was there any mention that I should keep the largest/heaviest of the wrapped gifts far, far away from the princess’s reach.  It was all nicely wrapped and so I put it under the tree.  For nearly two weeks, Adelaide (the dog, not the city) seemed uninterested in any of the packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog).  Since Adelaide (the dog, although perhaps also the city) cannot contain her excitement when she smells food, I presumed that nothing in the packages was edible.  Therefore, I did not believe any packages from Adelaide (the city, not the dog) would be tempting to Adelaide (the dog, not the city).

HAHAHAHAHA. Wow! I was spectacularly wrong!

One day while I was leaving work, Ann sends the following text:

what’s Haigh’s?

To which, I responded:

An amazing chocolatier in Australia.

The reply back with a picture:

would it have been wrapped in Christmas paper?

I responded:

uh…maybe…why?

Of course, I was on the subway and since phone service was sketchy, I couldn’t call Ann.  What I did manage to do was text my friend in Adelaide, who confirmed that the AWOL package was, in fact, a full kilo of dark chocolate, not just a small bar of chocolate.  I relayed that information to Ann.  The second I came above ground, I called and received the following diatribe:

YEP! YOUR FUCKING DOG ATE THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE.  ALL OF IT.  EVERY LAST MORSEL! GONE!  IT’S ALL OVER HER FACE AND SHE’S JUST LYING ON YOUR BED BASKING IN THE GLORY OF EATING ALL THE FUCKING CHOCOLATE!  AND NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!  SHOULD I TAKE HER TO THE VET?  SHE SEEMS FINE BUT SHE COULD DIE!  I CAN’T BELIEVE SHE ATE ALL THE CHOCOLATE!  I MEAN, YES I CAN, BUT WHY?!?!?!  IT COULD KILL HER!  DOES SHE KNOW THIS?  OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES, BUT SHE OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE BECAUSE SHE ATE ALL THE GODDAMN CHOCOLATE!

After several minutes of panicked back and forth about the antics of my newly minted Chocolate Lab, I hung up and immediately called the vet.  After explaining Addy’s dalliance to the vet tech who answered the phone, I was put on a brief hold and the vet himself came on the line.  After repeating the story to him, he asked a couple of questions about how Addy was doing.  I replied no vomiting, no diarrhea, no sluggish behavior, and that according to my roommate, she is happy as a clam and proudly flaunting the remnants of her feast.

To which the vet responded:

well wouldn’t you be happy as a clam if you just ate a kilo of dark chocolate?!?

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Touché!

Thankfully the worst thing to come out of this was that a) I was deprived of some delectable chocolate (the real tragedy of this story!) and b) now the pupcicle thinks she is immune to the evil effects of chocolate to dogs and is constantly trying to sneak a taste when I’m not looking.

sigh… #lifewithlabs

Sunday Comics: National Humor Month

I find it rather ironic (aka lazy of me) to not have posted any Sunday Comics in April, aka National Humor Month.

Oops.

Being the last day of April and, conveniently falling on a Sunday, I have decided it’s better late than never.  Plus for full disclosure, I must confess that I only learned it was National Humor Month this morning when I came across this article from the Huffington Post.  I would like to point out–for the record–that their article was originally published on April 26th, so I don’t feel like too much of a slacker for waiting a few more days (also, we’re going to TOTALLY ignore that it was published in 2012…like I said: I only found it today)!

The article highlights a few reasons laughter is the best medicine–which to me ranks higher than apples and slightly lower than wine or coffee (although having both wine and/or coffee does help the laughter flow, so really they are all interrelated).

  • Laughter Reduces Stress: When stressed, we produce a hormone called cortisol. Laughter can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
  • Laughter Can Reduce Pain: Laughter causes us to produce endorphins, which are natural, pain-killing hormones.
  • Laughter Strengthens the Immune System: A hearty laugh decreases stress hormones and increases production of T-cells, immune proteins and infection-fighting antibodies.
  • Laughter Helps the Heart: When we laugh we increase blood flow and the function of blood vessels, which can help prevent cardiovascular problems.
  • Laughter Relaxes the Whole Body: One good belly laugh can relieve physical tension and relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes.
  • Laughter Helps You Recharge: By reducing stress levels and increasing your energy, laughter can help you focus and achieve more.

You can read the full article here.  And if you click on the link of Sunday Comics (here or above), you can see all my noble attempts to help keep you healthy!

Without further ado, here’s a video that makes me laugh every. single. time.  Probably because this is soooooo Addy–not the German Shepard, who haughtily does it perfect, but the Golden Retriever…because well, I think everyone with a Golden or a Labrador can relate.

Consider this your medicine for today–and bonus points if you’re drinking red wine and/or eating dark chocolate while laughing 😉

 

 

PS–In case you’re wondering about the Featured Image of Addy in the snow: it is completely not related, except that it is what I imagine Addy’s version of laughter looks like! 🙂 (for those of you who follow me on email, the picture is below)

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Cheese Thief

Did you know that labradors are never used as taste-test dogs?  That is because they will eat anything with the same amount of gusto:  good food, bad food, cookies, carrots, remote controls, whatever. Being true to the labrador lifestyle, Addy will eat just about anything (thankfully I curbed her non-food eating habits early on in life), but if it’s food–or anything vaguely resembling food (cough cough**Vaseline**cough cough)–Addy thinks it is fair game.

Being a svelte 83 pounds, Addy does not do sneaky or graceful well…unless food is involved.  When sneaking food is on the day’s agenda, my beloved pupcicle could teach ninjas a thing or two about stealth.

Picture it:  Ann (aka roommate) is working upstairs and has a nice plate of ham, cheese, and crackers for snacks.  She has one eye on her work and one eye on her plate because she knows not to leave the snack plate unattended lest Addy decide to help herself.  Ann’s biggest mistake, she admits later, was thinking that she would notice Addy trying to help herself to the snack plate.

Poor Ann did not know that for the entirety of her life, Addy has been perfecting the art of the walk-by-and-eat act.  This is where she will casually walk by a table and in one fluid sweeping motion licks up all the food within reach of her tongue.

And just like that–in plain view of Ann–Addy stole all her cheese.

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Adelaide Grace, Cheese Thief, strikes again!